Strong winds force cancellation of women’s World Cup super-G

BAD KLEINKIRCHHEIM, Austria (AP) A women’s World Cup super-G on Sunday was delayed for 45 minutes and then called off after 11 starters because of strong winds, a day after the cancellation of a downhill on the same course.

”We always want to race but safety comes first,” FIS women’s race director Atle Skaardal said.

Organizers initially postponed the start of Sunday’s race as course workers needed more time to harden the snow surface using salt and chemicals following a night of mild temperatures.

After the first skiers completed their run, fierce winds started blowing over the course, prompting an interruption of the race as conditions got too dangerous for speed racing.

When the weather failed to improve over the following 45 minutes, organizers decided to call off the race.

By then, Daniela Merighetti had posted the fastest time, leading Italian teammate Nadia Fanchini by 0.15. Merighetti was the third starter and said her run was still unaffected by the wind.

Julia Mancuso, who started eighth, said it was ”definitely windy” when she came down but judged conditions not too dangerous at that time.

”Everyone has their own comfort zone,” said the American, who trailed Merighetti by 0.64 in fourth. ”It’s always tough when you have a windy race but it also something we understand doing an outdoor sport … I felt I was in good conditions racing but the storm is definitely moving in.”

A downhill on the same course was canceled Saturday after a storm destroyed parts of the finish area and the safety fencing along the course.

Volunteers worked through the night to rebuild the infrastructure, and the storm still wasn’t an issue in the hours leading up to the super-G.

The 33 gates were set Saturday though organizers had to move several gates as the snow around them had become too weak.

According to Skaardal, ”the course doesn’t look bad but it didn’t freeze overnight and under the top layer it’s soft.”

Several racers, including Lindsey Vonn and Lara Gut, had said they didn’t want to race if the course conditions didn’t improve.

”The course set is good, unfortunately the snow isn’t good,” Vonn said. ”Can it be dangerous? I think so. I think we should not race.”

And Gut added, ”If it’s like it is now, I don’t want to race.”

Vonn referred to her crash at the 2013 world championships, when the American standout landed in a spot of soft snow and badly damaged her right knee.

”It’s like Schladming here, and I lost two years because of that,” Vonn said. ”I think it’s too dangerous. If it was a training today, I wouldn’t be skiing at all.”

With a win Sunday, Vonn would have matched the all-time mark of 62 women’s World Cup wins by Annemarie Moser-Proell, but the feat wasn’t on her mind.

”No, the record can wait until after Cortina,” she said, referring to a downhill and a super-G in Italy next weekend.

The women’s World Cup travels to Flachau, Austria, for a night race on Tuesday, the final slalom before next month’s world championships in Vail and Beaver Creek.